Thirty years ago, indoor cannabis grow-light options were limited. We had high intensity discharge (HID) metal halide and high-pressure sodium bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, magnetic core and coil ballasts adapted from street lighting, and store-bought lighting products. None of it was designed or designated for horticulture, and certainly not for marijuana plants.
These days, there are many more grow-light options and manufacturers on the market. LED grow lights, double-ended lights, ceramic metal halide, ceramic high-pressure sodium, and extremely high-output fluorescent technology are accompanied by digital smart ballasts that replace the old-school magnetic core and coil ballasts.
Of course, grow lights require electricity to operate, plus electrical engineering technology and noble gases, and because lighting is crucial to photosynthesis and general plant physiological processes, growers need the best grow lights they can get.
But how do you know what’s best? Some growers follow hype and fads. They started using Gavita double-ended grow lights four or five years ago, because word on the street back then was these lights produced heavier harvests — even though they ran too hot for many grow rooms.
After the initial rush of enthusiasm, many cannabis growers backed away from Gavita because its lights were too hot for plants — unless, of course, you had a 10-foot ceiling, mega-ton air-conditioning equipment, and could keep the lights 4–5 feet above the plant canopy.
Then, in 2016, many growers backed further away from the Gavita brand, boycotting the company when it was acquired by Scotts Miracle-Gro front company Hawthorne Gardening.
People within the cannabis-growing community were put off by Scotts Miracle-Gro’s insidious business partnership with Monsanto, its monopoly-style aggressive business practices, the fact that it makes and distributes agricultural poisons suspected of harming the environment, and because it provides herbicides used by American drug warriors in countries like Colombia.
As growers stopped supporting Gavita, they turned to companies like Iluminar, who manufacture a double-ended fixture that outperforms Gavita’s double-ended grow lights, for a fraction of the cost.
The Iluminar fixture can be outfitted with a double-ended HPS bulb made by Eye Hortilux, one of the top grow-light companies in the world.
Made in the USA, Hortilux is the only lighting company that conducts original, proprietary, patented research, design, and manufacture of horticultural lighting.
The company is a subsidiary of Iwasaki Electric, a Japanese lighting giant formed in 1945 that has a number of technological firsts to its credit, including the first incandescent reflector lamp, the first large-scale production of mercury lamps, and the development of high-pressure sodium lamps.
Both Hortilux and its parent company employ a team of physicists, plant scientists, chemists and electronics engineers. In the hydroponics grow-lights market, Hortilux is the acknowledged leader in product line depth, manufacturing quality control, warranty and customer service, and new product innovations that help cannabis cultivators get faster growth, healthier plants, sturdier plants, and bigger yields with more cannabinoids and terpenoids.
The Hortilux 1000-watt Double Ended (DE) HPS bulb — which can be used in the Iluminar DE fixture — is one example of the company’s edge when it comes to technical innovation and quality control. This DE bulb can be driven at 1000 watts or 1150 watts, and boasts proprietary internal arc tube materials and new wiring technology that make the bulb safer, longer lasting and brighter. Plus, it features an extended spectrum ideal for marijuana bloom phase.
Hortilux also offers the industry’s other top-performing grow bulbs:
- Hortilux metal halide, available in 1000- and 400-watt configurations. Use it in grow phase.
- Hortilux Super HPS, the gold standard for bloom-phase HID bulbs, available from 250 to 1000 watts.
- Hortilux Blue, a truly amazing light that can be used start to finish of your plant grow cycle, available in 250- to 1000-watt bulbs.
- Hortilux Dual Arc fully displays the innovative scientific creativity of the brand. This light combines an HPS and a metal halide arc in one bulb, for superb start-to-finish grow-room success.
Hortilux: A New Generation Of Grow Lights
The scientists at Hortilux have worked long and hard to create a new generation of grow lights, set to debut in 2018. This new line will include a medium-sized LED grow light called the LED 240-R. This LED competes favorably against 250-watt and 400-watt HID grow lights in terms of energy consumption (240 watts) and decreased heat output.
It’s designed to provide nine square feet of coverage run 18 inches above the canopy and has a light spectrum tested as a grow-phase LED against seven other major LED brands. According to Hortilux’s results, this testing showed that the Hortilux LED quality, distribution, uniformity, and consistency of light wavelengths was far superior.
Another new Hortilux lamp system is the 315-watt ceramic metal halide (CMH) system, which puts out a spectrum that can be used by itself for grow phase or as minor-ratio ancillary lighting for bloom phase.
Ceramic metal halide is a new type of bulb that’s smaller, longer lasting, more efficient, and cooler than regular HID bulbs. The 315 CMH system provides coverage of nine square feet, and the light should be kept three feet above the canopy.
It’s useful to examine how ceramic bulbs (which come in metal halide and high-pressure sodium versions) differ from regular HID bulbs.
A ceramic bulb has a ceramic arc tube instead of the quartz arc tube found in regular bulbs. This ceramic arc tube is stronger than a quartz tube, and allows bulb designers to place a superior mix of noble gases inside the tube to create a more effective light spectrum than regular HID bulbs can emit.
The value of this innovation is magnified by Hortilux’s proprietary mix of noble gases, which are responsible for a bulb’s spectral output and are extremely rare in the grow lights industry.
A Hortilux CMH or ceramic high-pressure sodium bulb sends out a light spectrum with more efficient conversion of watts to cannabis-stimulating light wavelengths, with less heat and electricity consumption.
Your eyes will enjoy the Hortilux CMH because it renders colors much more naturally than you get under regular grow lights. And your plants enjoy CMH because it provides high doses of ultraviolet radiation in the A, B and C ultraviolet sector, which in turn creates shorter internodes, better branching, and more cannabinoid and terpenoid production. These bulbs almost duplicate the color rendering, ultraviolet and infrared elements of the summer sun — great news for your plants!
Many experienced growers believe that a 315-watt CMH can equal a 600-watt regular HID metal halide, while some growers say the extended spectrum and efficiency of CMH means you can use it through grow and bloom phase, and enjoy better yields than if you use traditional high-pressure sodium bulbs in bloom phase.
Stealth is another unexpected benefit of these new Hortilux systems. Indeed, radio frequency interference from digital ballasts has gotten some growers busted, and can cause chaos with Wi-Fi and remote controls. The new Hortilux ceramic systems don’t create detectable RFI.
Customized Reflector For Maximum Light Output
Let’s now explore the new Hortilux SE 600 system, which includes a digital smart ballast and reflector in one fixture, and comes with a ceramic high-pressure sodium bulb.
This is the only modernized fixture for 600-watt bulbs designed for bulb versatility and for maximum light distribution. Previously I always disliked 600-watt lamps, because they’re mismatched when you run them in reflectors meant for 1000-watt or 400-watt lamps. The mismatch creates hot spots and wastes electricity.
I’ve used 600-watt bulbs as ancillary lighting during bloom phase, noticing the light was dispersed unevenly rather than reflected properly to send all bulb light directly at the plant canopy, even though I was using an expensive reflector with the highest quality German aluminum as its reflective surface.
Hortilux heard growers complaining about reflector problems, so it put its engineers to work making a reflector specifically for 600-watt grow lamps.
I got the Hortilux SE 600 system to replace a 1000-watt grow light in my grow room, and was immediately impressed by the 16 square feet of even illumination I got. Its light output and light profile was just about equal to the 1000-watt grow light I’d replaced.
Using my light meter, I could tell Hortilux had eliminated the problem of hot spots and dark spots that comes with most hydroponics reflectors. A hot spot is an area of concentrated light and heat, while a dark spot is an area where not enough light can penetrate. Many growers have been frustrated by these reflector problems that waste electricity, create uneven growth patterns, and overheat some plants while not lighting others enough.
Hortilux’s new reflectors fix these problems through incredibly even light distribution across the 16 square-foot lighting area, with the fixture three feet above my canopy, as Hortilux recommends.
The SE 600 only operates 600-watt grow lamps and is tuned to operate the Eye Hortilux Ceramic HPS, Hortilux Blue and Super HPS.
The unit includes a 600-watt Ceramic HPS for good value and radiates a beautiful orange-white hue, with a spectrum that can be used for both grow and bloom phase.
I appreciate other features Hortilux included in the SE 600 system, such as the ballast, which can be removed from the fixture for remote use in order to reduce ballast heat in the grow room. And the lamp has a feature that allows it to slowly come to full illumination at start-up, which is similar to what plants experience outdoors, from pre-dawn to dawn to sunrise.
This system reduces your grow-light electricity costs and grow-room heat, while lighting the same square footage you normally would with 1000-watt lights. At the same time, it delivers more and better light spectrum.
Incredibly Versatile T5 Fluorescent Grow Lights
Hortilux debuted its PowerVEG T5 high-output fluorescent grow bulb five years ago, and it was an immediate hit with a variety of grow situations.
Now, Hortilux offers a PowerVEG system that gives you customizable light spectrum for every phase of growth.
The flagship PowerVEG is called FS+UV — full spectrum plus ultraviolet. This bulb delivers the visible and invisible wavelengths you get from the sun at noon on a summer’s day. These wavelengths offer all kinds of benefits, including:
- Promoting extreme photosynthesis.
- Creating a stronger root system, faster.
- Enabling easy transition for indoor starts transplanted outdoors.
- Develops healthier grow-phase plants that produce higher yields and higher quality crops.
- Accelerated crop cycles and bloom-phase maturation, with more production of cannabinoids and terpenoids.
- Fluorescents produce very little heat and consume the least amount of electricity of any horticultural light.
- Can be used 8–12 inches above plant canopy.
The PowerVEG FS+UV bulb is like a hydroponics base nutrient in grow-light form. Hortilux offers other PowerVEG bulbs, each with its own light spectrum, to be used along with the FS+UV at appropriate times during your marijuana plants’ life cycle. It’s like the grow-light equivalent of using hydroponics base nutrients plus targeted bloom boosters.
Hortilux offers a deep-blue spectrum PowerVEG 420 light for grow-phase use. The PowerVEG 420 puts out all its spectral energy at 420 nanometers. Combined with the spectrum provided by the FS+UV fluorescent grow lamps, the PowerVEG 420 maximizes the initial growth process for vegetation to create:
- Tighter internodal spacing.
- Stomatal opening 10 times greater than with other grow lights.
- Stronger root growth.
- More chlorophyll A, lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene absorption for greater metabolic vitality.
Another new member of the PowerVEG family is the 460 bulb, a grow phase and transitional T5, with its entire spectral output at 460 nanometers.
When used along with the PowerVEG FS+UV during grow phase and during the first two weeks of bloom phase, the 460 encourages root growth, compact plants, protection from heat and oxidative stress, and extremely short internodes. Hortilux recommends combining the FS+UV, the 420, and the 460 in grow phase.
In contrast to the 420 and 460, Hortilux offers red-spectrum 633 and 660 nanometer bulbs. These bulbs induce budding, weight and resin development. Use them in combination with the FS+UV.
The benefits of these two red-spectrum bulbs include:
- Expanded leaf size and photosynthesis metabolism.
- Larger, denser flowers.
- Stronger stems and stalks to support larger buds.
- Faster finishing.
- More cannabinoids and terpenoids.
Because T5 bulbs are used in multi-bulb fixtures, the PowerVEG family gives you the ability to mix and match bulbs to create customized light spectrums in ways you can’t do with HID or LED grow lights.
Hortilux is a grower-centered company that provides various bulb configurations for different stages of growth.
Over the years, I’ve been impressed by Hortilux’s technical support and overall communication, which goes the extra mile to fully explain grow-light configurations that make the gear even more useful for growers.
Although most growers only use T5 bulbs for early seedlings and clones, or as ancillary lighting, the breadth and depth of the Hortilux T5 family means that growers using sea of green and/or small grow chambers can combine PowerVEG bulbs to use them as start-to-finish grow lights and get surprisingly good yield.
And because PowerVEG grow bulbs also provide a customizable, ideal light spectrum and very little heat, they’re perfect for situations where heat from HID or LED grow lights is unacceptable.
Growers can use the FS+UV, along with the 633 and 660 bulbs, as ancillary bulbs that provide ample ultraviolet and red-spectrum lighting in bloom phase, leading to larger, stickier buds.
I’m very grateful to Hortilux for the products it makes and how the company interacts with the grower community. When you talk to Hortilux engineers and scientists, you learn about the vast array of design and manufacturing choices that impact the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of bulbs, reflectors and digital ballasts. As with hydroponics nutrients and other grow gear, when you buy from a professional company like Hortilux, you know you’re getting innovative, reliable, yield-boosting bulbs, digital ballasts, reflectors, T5s, and integrated light systems from the most respected, scientifically backed grow lights company in the world.